Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion

Legendary in the annals of the history of Penang is the awe-inspirong Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion at Leith Street. Dubbed "La Maison Bleu", this flamboyant masterpiece of 38 rooms, 5 courtyards, 7 staircases and 220 windows took a special man to create.

Arriving penniless from Guandong province, China, to this part of the world at the age of 16, Cheong Fatt Tze grew to become one of the most historic and colourful personalities of the era, "One of China's last Mandarins and 1st Capitalists", such was his aura and fame that the Dutch and British authorities ordered that flags be flown at half mast throughout their colonies when he passed away in 1916.

Of his vast empire, Cheong Fatt Tze chose Penang to build the most elaborate of his homes and to raise his sons. It is reputed to be only one of two such buildings of this size, outside China and certainly the most perfected. While the Mansion's floor plan is essentially Chinese, the overall effect is eclectic and typical of 19th Century Straits Settlements architecture.

From the outside, the mansion is perfectly symmetrical. The mansion was built with careful attention to the principles of Feng Shui. It faces the sea and has Penang Hill at the back.

The concrete fence surround the mansion also has two elements from the East and West incorporated into it.

This domestic block was built in front of the mansion to prevent any road being built to form a T junction in front of it (as it is bad luck according to the Feng Shui)

Gothic louvered windows, Chinese cut-and paste porcelain work, Stoke-on Trent floor tiles, Scottish cast iron works and Art Nouveau stained glass are among the features to be found in this inspired work of art. The aura and "chi" of the man pervades the entire edifice.

Photograph is prohibited during the tour and while inside the mansion.

Tour guides are available exactly at 11am, 1.30pm and 3pm (RM12 each). The tour guide will give some history background of Cheong Fatt Tze and brief through some of the hidden features of the mansion.

One might wonder why blue was chosen for this mansion as red/yellow/orange would be an obvious choice for been an auspicious colour to the Chinese. There is no definite answer but one theory is that the colour gave a cool feeling for those living in the mansion especially in the hot and humid weather in this part of the world.

As with the Chinese curse, the wealth will not last for 3 generations and Cheong Fatt Tze's 3rd generation had gone broke by then and sold the mansion immediately after Cheong Fatt Tze's son passed away (Cheong Fatt Tze actually has a written will back then that forbid the mansion to change hand while his youngest son was still alive).

Cheong Fatt Tze is of Hakka descendant, same as myself and according to the tour guide, as a Hakka, we should be proud of our legacy and his achievement. His success story will definitely inspire me.

5 comments:

SJB said...

Interesting.

dong ho said...

One of China's last Mandarins and 1st Capitalists>>> very interesting. and i wont be surprised because even before the spaniards occupied the philippines, chinese were already around the philippines doing trade.

acura said...

A very grand mansion. Some how I always miss visiting this place whenever I'm in Penang. Oh btw, how much is the entrance fee? Do you have to pay additional for the guides or is it inclusive in the fee?

Bengbeng said...

this is situated next to my school but yet it is another place i have passed countless times but never went in :)

Borneo Falcon said...

Acura: RM12 is the entrance fee and inclusive of the guided tour inside the mansion

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